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Archive for the ‘Civil War Hospitals’ Category

~ Republican Advocate – Batavia, Genesee County, New York
Tuesday, July 15-1862.

Scenes in a Washington Hospital

A correspondent of the New York Evening Post draws the following picture:

Scenes in the Hospitals.

The wards of the modern hospitals on Judiciary Square are still filled with
the wounded boys for the battle of Fair Oaks. The morning after their
arrival what a scene this hospital presented ! The great hall was thronged
with men “slightly wounded,” on crutches, with arms in slings, and shaven
heads in bandages.
They seemed in the best of spirits, talking together of the battle; of
the coming fight; some, of their anxiety to be in it; others, of their
expected furloughs and their anticipated visit home.

Worn, dusty, bronzed, wounded, it was touching to se the gaiety of these
men; but the real tragedy was within. It was not acted, but suffered on more
than a thousand cots lining those long wards.
Surgeons were busy everywhere, and as I watched them narrowly it seemed
to me nothing could exceed their skill, their assiduity, their gentleness.
Yet there did not seem to be enough. Men lying in garments covered with the

gore fro their wounds still undressed, waited without a murmur their turn.
I did not hear a groan, not a complaint, but eyes looked up to mine from
those cots which will haunt me always. With faces blanched from loss of
blood, scorched with fever, prostrated with pain, the mute, appealing,
suffering soul looked through its windows and told its story. What a
comment on our brotherhood, on our civilization, was the spectacle of these
men.

Heroism of Our Wounded.

On the edge of his cot sat a young man whose face scarcely bore a
vestige of that of a man. It was so swollen that his eyes were not visible,
and as purple as if already mortified. The lower part of his jaw, with his
tongue was shot away,

Holding his head with both hands and leaning over a stand sat a young
lieutenant whose hearing was nearly destroyed, one eye shattered and the
other shot out.

Many letters to the home friends of these sufferers were written for
them by women that morning. How touching was the falshood which all alike
wished indicted:: “Tell her that I am not much hurt, and expect to be well
enough to be in the next battle.” Or, “I am very slightly wounded, and
shall soon be well enough to come home on furlough.” – “Don’t tell my
mother how I am hurt, it will make her feel so bad,” said a young boy from
New York city, severely wounded; “tell her I am getting on nicely, and shall
soon be well.”

Say: “My dear wife, do not fret. My wounds are all dressed, and I have
the best of care. Tell sissy that papa sends her a kiss, and is coming home
to see her.” – This was the message of a young man, pale and prostrate.

“You must have had enough of fighting,” I said to a clear-eyed man, (one
of Col. Barker’s men,) who had one limb shattered and the other shot off.
“I’d go back to-morrow if I had a wooden leg,” lifting his head in the bed
at the very thought.

“Why didn’t you send your boys,” I asked of an exceedingly gentlemanly
looking man of more than sixty, in whose elbow and shoulder a bullet was
still lodged. “I took two sons and a son-in-law, and would have taken more
if I had them,” he said with a smile.

These are not fancy utterances, but spontaneous words, which I records
as I heard them from the lips of our suffering but heroic soldiers. It is
more than brute fortitude, it is a high moral sentiment, a love for their
county, the thought that they have sacrificed themselves for it, which makes
these young men suddenly maimed, many rendered helpless for life, so utterly
patient, so cheerful even, through the long weary days of excruitiating
pain.

In one of the wards there were a large number of wounded men from
Casey’s division. They did not care for their wounds, one said, “but it was
hard to be wounded in the fight and then be called cowards.” “Our boys are
not cowards,” he declared, “But we were surprised while we were cooking our
dinner, and overpowered by great numbers.|

Near by lay a young man whose mild blue eyes and fine fibred frame
indicated an organization exquisitely sensitive to suffering. One of his
arms had been shot off close to the shoulder – his right arm – and the odor
from the undressed wound made the room almost unbearable. By his side sat
the wife of a Senator, writing for him to his mother. Suffering had weakened
his nerves, and, spite of an evident struggle to keep them back, as he
indited his message of love, tears rolled won the cheeks of the lady while
she wrote.

The next morning, when the surgeon dressed his arm, when he dug the
clotted blood from the festering bone, and thrust his keen knife into the
live quivering flesh this poor fellow looked upon the operation with less
emotion than he would had it been performed upon another person, not a groan
escaped him. Not a tear fell down his cheek then!

Entering another ward the first object on which my eyes rested was the
form of a child, a boy not more than twelve years old, with one leg
amputated. There he lay, outside of the coverlet a beautiful, dark haired
boy, the lids shut over his sleeping eyes, the long lashes fringing his
cheek. Directly over his head some womanly hand had hung the engraving of a
kneeling boy, with seraphic face and lifted hands, praying to his Father in
Heaven.

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